Bulldog sophomore Anna Hall finished as the runner-up in the pentathlon during the opening day of the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on Thursday.
The fourth-ranked Georgia women have eight points and are fifth place through two events. The weight throw was the only final that was held on the men’s side Thursday and Florida is leading with 10 points. However, the Bulldogs did have a phenomenal start on day one of the heptathlon.
“Tremendous day one for the Dawgs as we started with a very hard earned and valuable silver medal and eight points by Anna Hall,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “Anna is a jewel of a human and an outstanding competitor who I’m very lucky to have on this team. To show up after a hard fought (Southeastern Conference) win and silver in the high jump and to take second in the NCAA behind only the collegiate record holder speaks very highly of her by itself. Anna didn’t have her best day but still found a way to give her team extremely valuable points.
“Anna and the boys really put on a show for the Dawgs today. Kyle (Garland) and (Karel) Tilga are competing like there is no tomorrow and they have their hands full with a tremendous competitor in the Texas decathlete. Our pair understands how important it is to carry our combined events tradition and how crucial it is to keep fighting until the end. I’m looking forward to an amazing day two and hopefully and nice momentum builder for the rest of the team. Go Dawgs!”
Hall, a native of Greenwood, Colo., scored 4,401 points in the pentathlon at her first Nationals. This marks the ninth consecutive year the Bulldogs have had an All-American in the event. Two weeks after Hall bested Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens for the SEC title, Gittens topped former Lady Bulldog Kendell Williams’ collegiate record of 4,703 with 4,746 points on Thursday to win the title.
Hall returns to action in the open high jump on Friday at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Through four of seven events in the heptathlon, the sixth-ranked Bulldogs had redshirt sophomore and national leader Kyle Garland explode for a career best 3,555 points to take a 21-point lead over Texas’ Leo Neugebauer (3,534), who is ranked second nationally. Garland’s score is the top day one total in Bulldog history.
Bulldog sophomore Karel Tilga, who was eighth on the 2021 national descending order list, also tallied a monstrous day one personal best with 3,529 points, trailing Garland by only 26 points. The country’s third-ranked heptathlete, Arkansas’ Markus Ballengee, dropped out after the second event.
Action begins on Friday with the final three events of the heptathlon (60m hurdles, pole vault, 1000m) for Tilga and Garland starting at 11:00 a.m. Sophomores Matthew Boling starts the open events for the Bulldog men at 3 p.m. in the long jump while Hall and fellow sophomore Shelby Tyler will begin in the high jump at 5:30 p.m. Boling will later run in the 200m semifinal on Friday.
During the pentathlon, Hall was fifth after the opening event and then bounced between second and third before ending up as the meet’s runner-up. She completed the indoor season with the country’s No. 2 score in 2021 after scoring 4,590 at the Razorback Invitational in this same facility.
To start the day, Hall registered the second-fastest 60-meter hurdles time in a pentathlon of her career. She ran an 8.43 to score 1,032 points and was in fifth place.
Hall and Gittens were back at it in the high jump, just as they were twice during the SEC Championships two weeks ago. Hall cleared her first five heights on first attempts, including 6 feet, ½ inch, before hitting 6-1.50 on her second try. This surged her into second place by 114 points behind Gittens, who went 6-4 in the high jump.
Hall slipped in the standings during the shot put after reaching a top distance of 37-5.25 on her third try for 622 points. Taking 12th in the event, Hall stayed in second place and trailed the leader by 277 going into the long jump.
Inching up each attempt, Hall improved on her second and third tries in the long jump to finish at 18-8.75. This dropped Hall to third after she added 762 points in the fourth of five events.
Hall wrapped up her fifth collegiate pentathlon and first NCAA Championships combined event competition by taking fourth in the 800m. She started with the fastest split in the first 200m (29.43) and completed the race in 2:13.19. This finish that was four seconds faster than Duke’s Erin Marsh and helped keep Hall ahead of Marsh in the final tally by 57 points.
In the heptathlon, Garland flew past his previous day one personal best by 101 points thanks to three personal records and a season-best effort. Tilga soared past his previous personal record by 128 points after knocking down four straight career-best efforts.
Garland was second in his heat and ninth overall in the opening event, the 60m, with a season-best time of 7.06 for ninth place (861). Tilga opened with a personal best thanks to his 7.06. This scored him 851 points and put him in 11th.
Tilga steadily improved during his series in the long jump, topping out at the 10th-best mark in school history. Beginning with an effort of 24-0.75, he went 24-4.25 on his second try and then finished with a personal best 25 feet on his final attempt to score 965 points. Garland also bettered his first try on his second attempt with a top mark of 24-7.25, which is his best long jump performance in the multi-events at UGA. Tilga was in fourth through two events, trailing the leader by 100 points, while Garland was one spot and 20 points behind his teammate.
The Bulldog duo continued to heat up in the shot put with a pair of personal bests. Tilga, who rocketed to second place by only 33 points, came out of the gate with the longest throw of his career at 50-11. Then, he went 52-7.50 on his third try to win the competition and boost his total by 854 points. Garland his the best throw of his life on his second attempt, going 50-6.75 for third place and 815 points. He was in third place by 92 at this point.
Similar to how they ended in the shot, the Georgia pair in the heptathlon also posted personal records in the high jump to finish the day. Garland recovered from a third attempt clearance at 6-9 and steadily rose until he reached 7-0.50 on his first try. With his third personal best of the day, Garland took the lead for the first time. Tilga, who came in with a 6-8.75 personal record from 2020, notched five first try clearances before going over at 6-9 on his second attempt. This narrowly bumped him into third, just five points away from second.